The lure of the beckoning road is a strong one for many. The alluring promise of the next town over, The perpetual new. One reservation travelers may have to hitting the highway is wear and tear on their vehicle. Mass transit is minimal in many parts of the U.S. so having reliable transportation is essential. We need to save the car for getting us to our jobs, Renting a car for several days is expensive so the road trip adventure is usually just lived vicariously in movies or a Jack Kerouac book,
So what if there was a way to get a vehicle for free and to be compensated for gas and expenses. Enter the drive away. So what exactly is a drive away? A drive away is where a person or company will pay someone to drive their vehicle to a specific location. Examples of this would include people who travel south every winter and prefer to fly down and have their cars driven to them. These ‘snowbirds’ would rather pay to have someone else drive their vehicle to them and get to the warm weather faster. Other examples are people who rent a car for one way only. The car rental company will then pay someone to drive back to the original rental location especially if that location does a lot of business. Also, Many auto dealerships purchase used vehicles in auctions and have them driven to the lot. Another example is a corporation that has ‘company cars’ that need them moved from one location to another. Drive away companies serve as a clearing house and usually work with all of these sources and hire out drivers.
Drive away companies usually have two ways of operating. Some pay a straight salary and travel expenses while others will just provide the car without charge on a contract basis. The vehicles given are fairly new and with low mileage. Nothing that fancy, usually just a family sized vehicle.
So who can qualify? Anyone older than 23, with a good driving record. You may be required to submit a deposit of about $300 US (but not always). The vehicles are fully warranted and insured but some companies may require personal auto insurance as well.
So is a drive away a good fit for you? Here are Five Yeps and Four Nopes that might help you decide.
Yep Number One: You save wear and tear on your own car and no rental fees Driving the loaner car gets you on the road without concerns of putting the additional mileage on your own vehicle. It may not be a sports car, but the vehicle you’re driving is clean and in excellent working condition. Vehicles always have a full inspection and tune up beforehand so you are certain to not have any mechanical mishaps. You are also not charged for use of the car and given at least one full take of gas and can deliver it with an almost empty tank.
Yep Number Two: Vehicles are warranted and insured Car rental companies always want you to have insurance and if you do have an accident, the costs even with the insurance provided, can still be quite high. On drive away vehicles insurance is provided. Should you have an accident, you’re covered. (provided you’re not chemically impaired at the time of the accident, so no drinking and driving)
Yep Number Three: Save additional money by car pooling and avoid “The Dip” What’s more fun than a road trip? A road trip with friends. Getting a drive away and sharing the car with your friends means you all save money together. And you have someone to help with the driving. You also save yourself the dreaded “Drip”, that nasty hold on your credit card when you rent a car which can really do some damage if you need to use your card on elsewhere on your trip,
Yep Number Four: Routes are usually cross-country. The routes are usually fairly long and often cross the entire country allowing for that full on road trip experience. You can drive a long distance not worried about when you will need to change oil or check the engine. You’ll get to see a large part of the country at almost no cost.
Yep Number Five You can add-on additional trips You want to go from New York to LA, then maybe up to Seattle? No problem. Change out vehicles in LA and get a fresh vehicle for the next leg of your journey. Want to return home instead? Get a vehicle heading back and get back on the road.
Drive aways do have some drawbacks here are four Nopes
Nope Number 1 Routes and times are very specific Some companies are very specific about your route. You will always be on interstates where available, but the route is clearly given and you are expected to stay on it. Additionally, you have an expectation to be in your arrival city on a certain date. You are usually expected to drive up to 400 miles (about seven hours) daily.
Nope Number Two: You are usually delivering the vehicle to a specific location When you deliver the vehicle it is to a given address. It could be a car rental agency, an office park or even someone’s home. Once you drop off the vehicle, you’re on your own. You’ll need to taxi or uber if there isn’t mass transit available. The returnee may offer you a ride to where you need to go next, but they are under no obligation to do so.
Nope Number Three: No Choice of vehicle Personally, this isn’t a big deal for me, but some people are very conscious of what they are driving. As long as it runs well, I’m fine. In drive aways you drive what needs to be driven be it a truck, car , stick shift or automatic. It might even (gasp) have a bad stereo system. It’s all kind of a crap shoot.
Nope Number Four: Food and Accommodations are usually not included You get free use of a car, some or all of your gas, and possibly some reimbursement for expenses and that’s it. Any snacks, meals or overnight stays are out-of-pocket.
So what do you think? I can see some benefits to drive aways. They would especially be pretty good if they happen to cover an area you were going to go by rent a car or drive on your own to anyway. what do you think? As always, I welcome your comments